Friday, 10 January 2014

Max Ernst

This Month's Picture Choice

My choice of favourite picture this month is an extraordinary painting by Max Ernst
 It is called At the first clear word and was painted in 1923

Those of you who follow my blog (well done, by the way!) will know that Max Ernst is one of my favourite artists and someone who has inspired my own work

That does not mean that I can tell you what this painting is about - other than I know Ernst was studying Freud at the time!

What I can tell you is that there is an interesting story behind this painting

Max Ernst entered France illegally in 1922 and found refuge with Paul Eluard and his wife Gala at their home in Paris

Eluard was a poet and part of the emerging Surrealist movement. He had met Andre Breton and Louis Aragon - founding Fathers of Surrealism - in 1918

In the photograph above Paul Eluard is at the wheel, his wife Gala is fifth from the left and Ernst is on the bicycle, lower frame

The painting under discussion began life as a mural on the wall of Eluard's house at Eaubonne (a northern suburb of Paris) and was only later transferred to canvas

There were other murals in the house that Ernst painted at this time, together with the painted door shown above

It should be added that at this time (1923) Gala was also Ernst's lover and  she, with her husband Paul, lived together as a menage a trois

This may partly explain the sexual nature of these remarkable works, including the one shown above called Reality must not be seen as I am

My favourite from this series of murals is one called Long live Love, also painted in 1923 and anticipating similar work by Magritte by many years:

In 1929 Gala left Eluard and went to live with Salvador Dali, subsequently becoming his most cerebrated 'Muse'

Mike Healey

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